WEST BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — The Bradford County Correctional Facility has been dealing with a COVID-19 surge.
Warden Donald Stewart reported during Thursday’s Prison Board meeting that five employees and 52 inmates had tested positive over the past week.
“Every time somebody has a symptom, we’ve done tests,” Stewart said. “We’ve done mass testing three times in the last week — we’ve tested the entire facility. So we’re trying to identify where it’s at and keep ahead of it.”
The 52 inmates who tested positive have been in quarantine while around 60 additional inmates who were in contact with them have been confined to their cells. The remaining inmates have been confined to their units.
“This started in our (work-release) dormitory, which is why we think it spread so fast,” Stewart said. “We had to get all of those people out, get all of those people in cells, decontaminate the work-release area, and move inmates around. We hope we got ahead of it. We got them out of there and put a different group in there. Everyone who has been exposed is in a cell where they can’t expose anyone else.”
Stewart said none of the sickness has appeared serious and there have been no hospitalizations of staff or inmates up to this point. Health care contractor Primecare has been performing a regimen for those who have been infected that includes Gatorade, supplements, and a daily check of their vitals.
“We’re hoping we have everybody in areas right now where it can be contained, but we have to keep waiting and see if it has managed to spread to anywhere else,” Stewart said. “Staff are really on top of things. I think we’re more safe right now than we were at the beginning of the week. We had to do a lot of readjusting with housing.”
Staff and affected inmates have been wearing N95 masks and “the jail smells like a pool right now because of the amount of bleach that we’re using,” Stewart said.
Although the exact source of this outbreak is unknown, Stewart said they have been seeing an uptick in COVID cases coming through the door lately. Those who come into the facility with an infection go through a quarantine procedure.
“We went for months without anyone coming in with it,” he added.
The virus has mostly impacted the facility’s male population at this time. Stewart said only two of their 35 women are infected, and they had come into the facility that way.